Reagan Daughter Patti Davis Regrets Her 1993 Tell-All Tome, Advises Prince Harry To 'Be Quiet'

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
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Friends and fans of Ronald Reagan were aghast when in 1992 his daughter Patti Davis wrote the tell-all book, “The Way I See It: An Autobiography,” which according to its billing described “her father’s emotional abandonment of her, her mother’s cruelty, and the family’s bitter rivalries, uncontrollable rage, and dark secrets.” Sounds like some fun light reading.


These days she has regrets, and she has two words of advice for Prince Harry, the tortured British royal who is currently on a book and interview tour in his ongoing quest to torch his family:

Be quiet.

I’ve been sharply critical of Harry and his always-aggrieved wife, American actress Meghan Markle, and had my own words of advice: “please go away.

Davis, 70, explains her regrets in a Saturday New York Times opinion piece:

My justification in writing a book I now wish I hadn’t written (and please, don’t go buy it; I’ve written many other books since) was very similar to what I understand to be Harry’s reasoning. I wanted to tell the truth, I wanted to set the record straight. Naïvely, I thought if I put my own feelings and my own truth out there for the world to read, my family might also come to understand me better.

Not sure how publicly humiliating her family would make them understand her better, but that was her thinking at the time. To her credit, she finally came to understand that concept in later years:

Of course, people generally don’t respond well to being embarrassed and exposed in public. And in the ensuing years, I’ve learned something about truth: It’s way more complicated than it seems when we’re young. There isn’t just one truth, our truth — the other people who inhabit our story have their truths as well.


Prince Harry, meanwhile, has his own tell-all book coming out Tuesday, for which he appeared Sunday on 60 Minutes to promote with more flamethrowing. Leaks and press briefings were enough evidently for him to sell his brother, sister-in-law, stepmother and father down the river:

Davis thinks he will come to regret this onslaught of ugly accusations (emphasis mine):

Years ago, someone asked me what I would say to my younger self if I could. Without hesitating I answered: “That’s easy. I’d have said, ‘Be quiet.’” Not forever. But until I could stand back and look at things through a wider lens. Until I understood that words have consequences, and they last a really long time.

Harry has called William not only his “beloved brother” but his “arch nemesis.” He chose words that cut deep, that leave a scar; perhaps if he had taken time to be quiet, to reflect on the enduring power of his words, he’d have chosen differently.


Harry has done untold damage to his own reputation and to his family’s, and he has said and written things that can never be taken back. This isn’t a family tiff, it’s an irreparable rift that will never heal.

His motive remains unclear—simple revenge? More money and fame, both of which he already has in spades? It’s hard to tell, but I’d bet the house that it in the end it won’t have been worth it. Davis has some surprisingly thoughtful reflections on this:

I’ve learned something else about truth: Not every truth has to be told to the entire world. People are always going to be curious about famous families, and often the stories from those families can resonate with others, give them insight into their own situations, even transcend time since fame flutters at the edges of eternity.

But not everything needs to be shared, a truth that silence can teach. Harry seems to have operated on the dictum that ‘Silence is not an option.’ I would, respectfully, suggest to him that it is.

I am among those who were disappointed when Patti Davis penned her scathing tome. To me, the Gipper was and is my favorite modern president. Every family has secrets, and many people have regrets about the things they’ve done or the way they’ve acted. I know not of a single case, however, where airing the dirty laundry has led to improved relations (or improved anything, actually). Davis may not be able to go back in time and undo the damage to her father, but at least she has come to terms with the fact that what she did was wrong.


Unfortunately, her advice comes way too late for Hatin’ Harry.

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